The preseason baseball tournaments were held last weekend with mixed results for area teams.
Skyline and Westwood won four games and Dobson three times to lead the way.
Regardless of results it was good to get off the practice field and into true game situations to get the season started.
First-year varsity players get innings and at bats out of the way and have a feel for what the varsity game is like heading into the regular season action, while the vets get back into a groove.
Many of the teams – like Red Mountain, Desert Ridge and Skyline – have high expectations while Mountain View is seemingly always close to 18 wins by the end of the year.
The other programs – Mesa, Dobson and Westwood – are trying to develop the program to be more of a consistent winner, starting with this season.
“If we can stay healthy I think we have as good a shot as any team this year to win the region title,” Mesa coach Mike Masciangelo said. “I think our pitching staff headed by Orlando Luna and Jacob Hanna give us a chance to win any game they pitch in. Early on we have been bit by the injury bug so if we can just get past this. I am optimistic.”
Everyone is optimistic this time of the year; it will be interesting to see who still feels that way in late March when the region schedule kicks in and every game goes long in determining if the season will continue beyond the regular season game.
Here is a quick look at each team one week into the season:
Coach: Joe Bergen, second year
Last year’s record: 9-19,
Record last 10 years: 212-104 (.671)
Top players: Matt Shaw, Branden Cohn
Tournament: Desert Vista tournament (Feb. 23-24, March 3-4); Bob Everett Spring Break Classic (March 10-13)
Notes: Shaw had a team-high eight doubles, and 17 RBIs last season. … From 2008 to 2013, the Jaguars averaged 26 wins a year, including 29 and 31 wins during back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010. That has been cut in half – 13.3 per year – since then as Berger tries to rebuild program after Bryan Rice resigned after the 2016 season. … Cohn hit .250 in 16 at bats last year and pitched in seven games for 16.1 innings with a 1-2 record and 5.57 ERA. … The Jags are off to a 1-2 start.
Coach: John Miklus, fourth year
Last year’s record: 13-14
Record last 10 years: 105-171 (.380)
Top players: Ben Ferguson (INF/P)
Tournaments: Matt Huffman/Tomas Pinon tournament (Feb. 21-24); Bob Everett Spring Break Classic (March 12-14)
Notes: The Mustangs are looking for their first winning season since 2012, the only one in the MaxPreps era dating to 2005. … The program’s progression has been steady under Miklus as Dobson went from three wins in 2014 to seven the following year and to 13 last year. … Ferguson earned East Valley Honorable Mention status last year after hitting .344 with 14 RBI. … The team hit .285 last season and had a collective ERA of 4.76 last year. … The Mustangs have won three of their first four games.
Coach: Mike Masciangelo, seventh season
Last year’s record: 5-22
Record last 10 years: 106-157 (.403)
Top players: Orlando Luna, Jonas Rogers, Jacob Hanna, Carson Hoopes
Tournaments: Adam Donnenfield (Feb. 21-24); Bob Everett Spring Break Classic (March 10-13)
Notes: Mesa was 13-11 at one point last season before having to forfeit several games after it became known a player on the roster was playing in men’s league on the weekend. … Rogers (.364, 10 runs) was a second-team all-region pick. … The Jackrabbits hit one home run all last season. … Mesa open the year with two wins in its first four games.
Coach: Mike Thiel, 21 seasons
Last year’s record: 13-15
Record last 10 years: 173-126 (.579)
Top players: Mason Krause (LHP), Cameron Jawaiszas (1B, 3B), McKay Barney (OF)
Tournaments: Desert Vista tournament (Feb. 21-23), Boras Baseball Classic (March 14-17)
Notes: Krause (3-0, 2.39 ERA), Jawaiszas (.404. nine doubles, 15 RBIs), Barney (.329, 16 runs, 11 RBIs) were all second-team All-East Valley Region picks last year. … For the first time in the MaxPreps era (2004-05), the Toros had back-to-back losing seasons. … The Toros hit only three home runs as a team last year with a .272 average while the team ERA was 3.57. … Mountain View is 2-1 to start the year.
Coach: Ross Pagel, seventh season
Last year’s record: 17-12
Record last 10 years: 167-136 (.551)
Top players: Conner Thurman (RP), Tyler Rice (INF), Kai Murphy (P, OF)
Tournaments: Desert Vista (Feb. 21-23), Boras Baseball Classic (March 14-17)
Notes: Went 8-2 in the East Valley Region including 2-0 against Skyline, which also went 8-2, to win the title. … Thurman, headed to the UofArizona, went 5-1 with a 1.47 ERA with three saves and had 55 strikeouts in 52 innings to earn first-team all-region. … Rice had a great offensive year as he hit .432, scored 19 runs and drove in 26 and finished in the top two of every offensive category for the Mountain Lions. … Murphy, the son of former Arizona State coach Pat Murphy, is head to Oregon St. and returns as one of the top pitchers after posting a 1.80 ERA in 11 games, including nine starts. … Red Mountain went 1-2 to open the season.
Coach: Patrick Herrera, fifth season
Last year’s record: 20-8
Record last 10 years: 131-153 (.461)
Top players: Jan Rollon (OF), AJ Herrera (1B, OF), Tyler Jackson (SS), Cole Yokum (LHP, OF)
Tournaments: Wayne DesCombs Tournament (Feb. 21-24); Bob Everett Spring Break Classic (March 10-13)
Notes: The Coyotes winning percentage over the last three seasons is .663 (59-30) compared to .369 (72- 123) to the previous 10 years. … Rollon was a first-team all-region pick to help the Coyotes to an 8-2 runner-up finish. He hit .391 with 28 runs, 22 RBI. … Jackson (.364, 26 RBI) and Yokum (4-2, 3.99 ERA) were second-team picks. … Herrera hit .398 as a sophomore and led the team with 33 runs scored. … Coyotes opened the year with four wins in the first five games.
Coach: J.R. Langston, fifth season
Last year’s record: 15-12
Record last 10 years: 117-149 (.440)
Top players: Erik Ortiz (C), Manny Collier (OF), Crew Parke (SS)
Tournaments: Laveen Baseball Classic (Feb. 21-24); Best of the West Spring Classic (March 17-20).
Notes: Westwood has won a total of 36 games the last two seasons after winning just 41 the previous four. The Warriors bring back a solid core including Ortiz, who made first-team all-region as a freshman last year. … Collier brings speed to the outfield and Parke is steady at short after both made second-team all-region a year ago. … On the mound, Westwood brings back Jagger Parke, Eric Makil and Ryan Posthumus, who combined for six starts and 20 appearances last year. … The Warriors opened the year with four straight wins and enter the week 4-1.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.